Russia is set to deploy up to 1,000 more mercenaries to Ukraine in the coming days and weeks, as a senior Western intelligence official has warned that Moscow may “bomb cities into submission”, a escalation which could result in significant civilian casualties.
The United States has already seen “some indications” that Russian mercenaries may be involved in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “in some places”, a senior defense official said earlier this week, but it does not It wasn’t clear exactly where or how many.
“We have seen indications that they are employed,” the official said.
Now, a US official has told CNN that Russia plans to deploy up to 1,000 more mercenaries in the near future.
Forces blocked: Some Russian forces have struggled with morale issues and battlefield setbacks, including a massive convoy north of Kiev that has largely stalled in recent days.
Mercenary forces would fortify distressed units, the official said, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its second weekend.
The official added that the United States believed that the mercenaries already in Ukraine had “performed poorly in the face of stronger than expected resistance from the Ukrainians”, and that no less than 200 of these mercenaries had already been killed in the war on the ground. end of February.
Meanwhile, US and Western officials expect Russia to step up the pace and force of its strikes against major Ukrainian population centers, including the capital Kiev.
An escalating assault: Russia now appears ready to “bomb cities into submission,” a senior Western intelligence official said on Friday, which could lead to a significant increase in civilian casualties.
“It’s a very crude approach,” the official said. “Heavier weapons are not only heavier in terms of weight, they are also heavier in terms of the damage they can inflict. And they are much less discriminating.
Other officials have noticed a shift in Russian strategy from military targets to civilians, with more attacks focusing on population centers.
“The coming days will likely be worse, with more death, more suffering and more destruction, as the Russian armed forces bring in heavier weapons and continue their attacks across the country,” the Secretary General of the Russian Federation said on Friday. NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.
we Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed that sentiment at a press conference in Brussels on Friday where he is meeting with European allies.
“The Kremlin attacks are inflicting an increasingly heavy toll of civilians there. Hundreds, if not thousands of Ukrainians were killed, many more injured, as were citizens of other countries. Over a million refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries. Millions of people across Ukraine are trapped in increasingly dire conditions as Russia destroys more critical infrastructure,” Blinken said.